Today in history: On Feb. 27, 1937, an organizer from the Waiters and Waitresses Union stood among the bustling Saturday afternoon crowd in a Woolworth’s Five-and-Dime store in Detroit. At 11 a.m. he yelled out, “Strike, girls! Strike!” Thus began the Woolworth’s sit-down strike.
Nearly 85% of the workers were women under 26. They were going up against the largest retail giant in the country – the Wal-Mart of the early 20th century. Starting just days after the autoworkers’ sit-down strike at GM ended in victory, more than 100 women workers at one of 40 Woolworth stores in Detroit, MI, begin their strike over wages, hours, working conditions, and union recognition. Solidarity action in support of the workers grew, the strike spread, and on March 5 the workers won their demands, including the union shop. The union won a uniform contract for all 40 stores in Detroit, which covered 2,500 workers.